I don’t need to watch the Weather Channel every day like Nick Saban to know that Sunday morning dawned with clouds over every NFL city.
With the shocking, numbing news out of Kansas City that linebacker Javon Belcher had killed his girlfriend and then driven to Chiefs facilities and committed suicide in front of GM Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel, it was hard to really get excited about a slate of NFL games.
Yes, the games would be played because if there is one thing Roger Goodell is not hypocritical about, it is his belief that the NFL should always make as much money as possible even if at the expense of things like moral decency. But, in the face of the incomprehensible, can we really get emotionally invested in week #13 of the NFL? What was truly at stake here? Twelve weeks have passed, 4 weeks still to play. This was truly one of those lost weekends that will be forgotten in a month’s time. And yet the games would go on.
In Kansas City, the game kicked off as scheduled and I can’t even begin to imagine how the Chiefs prepared to play.
While some people outside the team inflamed the tragedy to make political points, the men that knew Belcher best had to struggle with the loss of a friend while realizing they may have never known him at all. All while preparing to play an NFL game.
TANGENT – Sorry Bob and Jason but your political points were mistimed and off-target this time. While, in general, I agree on the issue of gun control, to use this situation to make a political point is misguided. In many cases – see the tragic Aurora shootings – gun control would have been a logical outcome to discuss. Unfortunately the timing of that meant it was promptly buried by the NRA in the face of a coming election. In this case the gun was a tool, nothing more. Reports were that Belcher shot the mother of his child nine times. That is out-of-control rage. It is hard to imagine that no gun would have changed the tragic outcome, outside of having to replace ‘shot’ with ‘stabbed’ in every news story. If we are going to focus on a larger societal ill here, maybe it should be the belief that the controlled rage required to be a successful NFL defensive player is always that – controlled.
I have mocked Romeo Crennel countless times for his poor coaching but I struggle to even imagine what it would be like to watch someone you know kill themselves and then turn around in 24 hours and coach an NFL game. How that image doesn’t consume you, is beyond me.
A young woman was killed. A young man apparently snapped and left a child alone with no parents. Whether it is trying to make a bigger political point or ensuring we leverage our brand to maximize our revenues, sometimes we focus on the broader things at the expense of the small things.
Like a child that will grow up and never understand why her parents are gone.
As always, yes, I bet on the NFL games this week. I won some and I lost some, just like every week. As any visitor here can tell it has been pretty all-consuming for me this season. My mood can be dictated by the success of my bets; bets laid on games played in which grown men strap on pads and run into each other. It is silly and ridiculous yet serious business for many.
Walking in to the Wynn sports book on Sunday afternoon, it looked like any other NFL Sunday – people cheering and groaning as their teams or bets won and lost. A man in front of me (apparently) won a sizable bet on the Colts money line and screamed and danced a little jig of joy. He will remember that last second Andrew Luck touchdown for years and tell stories at parties about winning so much money on a touchdown scored on the final play of the game.
Week #13 ended up being just another Sunday in the NFL, sadly.
Bet #1 – Carolina (-3) at Kansas City
I had laid this bet early in the week but can’t say I ever spent much time worrying about it once Sunday came. When I awoke on Sunday morning I texted Turner and Shadow to confirm that we were all in agreement there was little doubt the Chiefs would win – we have seen this enough to know that in the face of tragedy teams invariably find a way to win. As Shadow replied ‘if Carolina losing helps bring some healing to Kansas City, it is a worthy sacrifice.’ I agree.
Bet #2 – Chicago (-3.5) vs Seattle
Bet #3 – Chicago (-3) vs Seattle
I was so confident in the Bears beating Seattle, I actually doubled down on them when the line moved from -3.5 to -3. Holding a four point lead in the final moments against a rookie quarterback who has struggled on the road, I was pretty sure this would cash. After a Bear defender dropped what would have been the game-clinching interception, Russell Wilson marched the Seahawks down and scored a touchdown. A Bear field goal as time expired sent the game to overtime where the Seahawks ultimately won on a first drive touchdown.
Let’s use this game as a check point on the Bears and something to remember the rest of the season. 1 – their offensive line is atrocious. 2 – They have one legitimate weapon in Brandon Marshall but to be effective, Jay Cutler needs time (see #1) and 3 – Their defense is old and overrated. Just because Brian Urlacher was once very good does not make it true in perpetuity (see: Lewis, Ray). In summary, avoid or bet against the Bears from here on out.
Bet #4 – Three Team Tease: New Orleans (+10) at Atlanta, New England (-1.5) at Miami, Washington (+8.5) vs New York Giants
Bet #5 – New York Giants (-3, -100) at Washington
My tease was crippled on Thursday night when the Saints pushed. I could still win but the payout was recalculated to that of a two team tease, which is less than doubling your money. After New England held on to beat the Dolphins, I decided to hedge the Redskins with a bet on the Giants. This ensured I would win something on Monday night and gave me a decent window (Giants winning by 4 to 8 points) in which I win both bets.
As usual when I hedged a tease, my initial instincts were proven right. The Redskins won out-right meaning that the hedge just resulted in my making less money.
I tried to get the magical Twinkie of hitting a sweet, creamy middle of both bets and instead ended up with a pink-coconut covered Snowball.
Bet #6 – Tampa Bay (+8.5) at Denver
Bet #7 – Denver 2nd Half (-7) vs Tampa Bay
Speaking of Twinkies, I present probably my finest gambling moment of the season. Coming off the stinging Bears loss and with nothing left in play but a mortally wounded Tease I decided to bet against my heart and on the Bucs. The first time I have actively bet against one of my favorite teams all season. It was a risky move that was sure to upset some people who would never dare bet against a team they cheer for. After I admitted the bet, Shadow didn’t talk to me the rest of the day and I am pretty sure still looks down on me. The logic was simple – the spread was too big. The Broncos winning at home by 7 against a solid team and I still winning my bet sounded like a perfect storm.
When the Bucs took a 3-point lead into half, I was feeling good about the bet. Then the Wynn announced the 2nd half line was Broncos -7, meaning they would cover or push if they won by 4 points or more. This gave me a hedge and window to a Twinkie of winning both if the Broncos won by 5 to 8 points.
In the third quarter, the Broncos came out and dominated and took a 28-10 lead into the fourth quarter. My hedge was looking pretty smart. After exchanging field goals to make the score 31-13, my main bet looked done. But the Bucs rallied. Kicking a field goal with under three and a half to play put them only 15 points down. Suddenly, a ‘meaningless’ touchdown in the closing moment would get me into magic Twinkie land. A three and out by the Broncos gave the Bucs the ball around mid-field. Two completions later, they were inside the ten. And then they scored a touchdown with two and a half to play. A failed onside kick and a first down by the broncos allowed them to finish the game in victory formation, celebrate an eight point win and allowed me to bask in the glow of my finest gambling accomplishment – winning two bets and having my favorite team win all in the same game.
If I were George Costanza I would stop betting right here to ensure I go out on top.
But I can’t stop now. As the NFL has proven, the games stop for nothing.